Alter Eco began in 1999 as a single store in the Les Halles district, selling mostly fair trade furniture and crafts. Over the last eight years, the company has grown to sell 56 food products in 13 countries, all of them certified by Transfair USA. Americans can look for Alter Eco coffees, teas, sugar, rice and chocolate at most Whole Foods markets, Giant Eagle supermarkets, and dozens of smaller specialty stores across the country.
Perhaps the only major company in the world to offer affordable, sweatshop-free clothing. American Apparel pays workers in 13 countries worldwide an average of $12 an hour and offers affordable health insurance to all employees and their families. American Apparel has also been making headway on the sustainability front, cutting energy use in its factories, recycling fabric scraps and pledging to up its organic cotton usage from 20 to 80 percent in the next few years.
An online store, Natural Atlantis offers a wide range of natural and organic products for babies and kids, as well as a newsletter with up-to-date information on the latest products, and even practitioner referrals.
Deciding whether or not to buy Aveda products poses some difficult questions to the ethical shopper. On one hand, Aveda is considered an innovative and responsible company that is committed to environmental sustainability. On the other hand, Aveda is owned by Estee Lauder, which many activists claim has used sweatshop labor, has been involved with toxic dumping, and often, anti-trust violations.
In 2003, actor and environmentalist, Ed Begley Jr., set out to become the Paul Newman of the cleaning products industry. Today, Begley's Best offers three varieties of natural, biodegradable cleaning products and donates all profits to charity. You won't find anything in these products that you can't pronounce — pine, citrus fruits, palm, coconut, and olive seeds are all typical of the ingredient lists. If you only try one variety of Begley's Best, be sure that it's the spot remover, which regularly recieves rave reviews from everyone who tests it.
Using a patented bio-polymer called "Mater-Bi", BioBag creates 100 percent biodegradable bags using no polyethylene — the petroleum-based plastic most plastic bags are made from. BioBag uses certified GMO Free corn to make around a dozen products ranging from kitchen bags to cat pan liners, all of which decompose rapidly once they hit the landfill or compost heap.
Earth Friendly Products has manufactured a wide array of environmentally friendly cleaning and household products since 1989. With manufacturing centers in Illinois, California, Florida and New Jersey, EFP pledges not only to provide good-paying jobs close to the places its products are sold, but to buy its ingredients locally and from independent producers wherever possible.
Earth Tones is offers wireless service, Internet access and long distance services, and delivers 100 percent of itsprofits to non-profit environmental organizations.
EcoFish is an eight year-old New Hampshire based seafood company offering fresh and canned fish to supermarkets across the country. All the seafood sold under the EcoFish label is responsibly caught or farmed under the highest standards of sustainability.
Priced at around $29 per unit, the EcoStrip plugs into your computer's USB port and automatically switches off power flow to all devices when the computer is shut down. Even though its price is about double that of most surge protectors, the EcoStrip will easily pay for itself within a year, since many computer configurations waste more than $70 a year when they're out of use.